By Chidiebere Nwankwo:
Sequel to this year’s International Women’s Day( IWD) celebration and many social, political, economic, and cultural contributions of women towards human development, Toguna Peace and Development Foundation, and its partners have unveiled some programmes for women to advocate more peace and empower themselves in order to effectively build and develop the nation.
Speaking during the IWD celebration under the theme: “Women- Peace Builders of the Society” at the Garki Model Market, in Abuja, the Executive Director of Peace and Development Foundation, Dr. Mariane Ngoulla, stated that the programmes they mapped out for ensuring peace and empowering the market women, other women and their families involved a vocational skills acquisition, micro-credit scheme, and education for both the mothers and their children.
Dr. Mariane Ngoulla reiterated that; “We all have a role to play. We talk about the women here because there is no peace, no social justice, and there is no social justice without empowerment. We have series of programmes we have mapped out. We have Microfinance partner who is not just to give loans but to also educate the women on how to manage these loans and how to save, and how to make sure they are making profit so that we can grow from strength to strength”.
Educating the gatherings on the concept of Toguna and its structure, she said, “The concept of Toguna is a shelter derived from Mali. The length of the structure is usually not too high. The height does not allow anybody to go in standing; so all have to bend while entering and sit on the floor. By bending, it reminds us that we have to be humble. It all means we should humble ourselves, come together and dialogue, from there we resolve every issue and differences we have. In the families, places of work, churches, etc., there is tension, which is why we are bringing the concept of Toguna to contribute to peace.
“So we say, ‘we should not carry-over, we should come together, we should dialogue and then, we should forgive and let peace reign’, because we believe that peace is a process, and women occupy a significant position for the realization of peace and development in the society”, she emphasized.
Also spoken to was the President of Junior Chamber International (JCI), Abuja Metro, Mr. Benjamin Ibhazukor, and he said that women are the instruments of peace and peace builders in the nation and they are meant to be celebrated.
He, also used that medium to educate people on the awareness of “Lassa fever”, urging mothers to let cleanliness be their watch-word so that Lassa Fever will be eliminated in the country.
In his word, “JCI is the largest youth body in the world that goes to communities where there are problems, analyze them and seek towards solving them. So, I believe that with the collective effort of our mothers and the youths, we can make peace and kick-out Lassa Fever”.
Adding to what the JCI, Abuja Metro President said, JCI Ambassador, Phillipa Nkeshita, stresses, “Today being in line with the IWD, we the JCI members, Abuja Metro are also creating awareness on Lassa Fever which is a killer disease. It is a 2-in-1 project for us. Women are the peace makers in the home, without them things will not work, that is why we want to implore the women who clean and take care of the homes on the need to be clean, also for them to motivate their husbands and children”.
Still in the same programme, Head of Business Development at ABUCOOP Microfinance Bank, Mr. Peter Ojo Zakari, commended the initiatives of Toguna Foundation, stating categorically that the major problem most people have is financial management, making known that with about 15 billion asset base his organization is there to help and empower women and other interested people who are ‘economically active’, also educating them on how to manage their businesses and their finances.
“We are collateral-free business people. We look at the capacity, capital and character of the customer in terms of being faithful. No man thinks right if there is no peace of mind and no man gets peace if the house is not settled. That is why we want to embark on women to empower them, let them get rooted, be settled so that there will be peace in the country, because, where there is peace, the economy will definitely increase. Our women are naturally born with business acumen. Their problem is the money to do business, so they need to be empowered”, he pointed out.
Moreso, Chairman of FCT Vocational Centre, Mr. Eneh Nwannaji, stated that the centre has variety of courses that can help women acquire more knowledge and skills for financial- self-reliant individuals.
Furthermore, Garki Market Women Leader, Princess Kofo James, appreciated the initiatives and has this to say, “We should not discriminate, we are one and we have to remain one. For peace to reign, you should try to manage the things you can manage and have what you can within your range. I want my fellow women to be empowered, because, we are the mothers even to our next generation. Women should know their duties in the house by giving their children adequate training, also being submissive to their husbands in order to make our environment peaceful.
“For those women that are facing domestic violence in their various homes, I want the society to know that nobody should be intimidated. A woman should have charisma, believe in yourself, irrespective of whatever you are or wherever you are coming from. Don’t look down on yourself, if you carry yourself very well, men will respect you. Men should know that they all came from women, they should not intimidate their wives, rather, they should honour, pamper and encourage their ambitions for peace to be attained”, she reiterated.
There was a drama sketch during the programme illustrating how market dispute can be settled amicably through proper dialogue under the Toguna shelter.
The organizations that partnered with Toguna for Peace and Development Foundation in the execution of this programme that day were: the JCI, Abuja Metro, ABUCCOP Microfinance Bank LTD, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Vocational Centre Federal Capital Territory.